Deeper and deeper we went...until the daylight on the surface seemed like a dream. How deep the elevator would take us I was not certain, but I was beginning to wonder if I suffered from bathophobia in some slight way, as my tongue was beginning to feel like salt pork and I could feel a cold sweat on my brow.
"You're sure it's down here?" I asked the nice young man in the white smock and apron.
"Certainly sir," came the polite reply. "We'll be right there."
I had ducked into the local Shur-fine Foods for a box of matzoh crackers, and had encountered the unexpected. The young stock clerk, when I asked him directions to the matzoh, motioned for me to follow him, and I did just that. We had now been on a sort of mine-shaft elevator for the past two minutes, descending into the depths of the earth beneath the store.
The elevator clanked to a halt and the rusty gate screeched open. The young stock clerk in the white smock and apron led me through a veritable maze of tunnels and passages, all lined with shelving and an assortment of (mostly Kosher) food. We arrived at what appeared to be the matzoh department, and a man stepped out of the shadows.
"Larry Fine!" I exclaimed, just about dropping my teeth in astonishment. "One third of the Three freaking Stooges, and back from the dead, no less!"
"Hey, hey...what's the big idea?" asked the iconic Jewish comedian. He attempted to poke me in the eyes, but I quickly and deftly placed my right hand in front of my face, the thumb toward my nose. Fine's index and middle fingers wound up on either side of my palm, missing their marks. The frazzle-haired comic reposted with tug of my nose and slap of his hand.
"OK, OK...break it up, you two," said the stock clerk, in his best Moe Howard impersonation. "Mr. Fine, this nice gentleman is looking for some matzoh crackers."
"Aaaaaaahhh, fooey. We're out of matzoh crackers. Tell him to go away."
"But it's the middle of Passover...how could you be out of matzoh crackers?" I asked, incredulously, not really expecting a response.
Just then a small covered wagon shot out of a corner, tearing across the floor with a small, shaggy terrier in hot pursuit. By the red-and-white checkerboard canvas covering the diminutive Conestoga, I new that another fine Purina product was being hauled to its destination.
"Well, boychik'," said Larry Fine, "it looks like you're in luck...here's a new shipment of Hungerik Yingl Chow arriving just this very minute."